Police probe Highland stag shooting caught on film

Police Scotland has launched an investigation and is seeking information from the public about a stag that was filmed being shot and killed in a Highland sea loch.

The video, published by The Ferret on 7 November 2020, shows a herd of deer running into a sea loch watched by a stalking party. A man aiming a gun is encouraged to “whack” the stag, which is then shot once, while in the water.

There is discussion about whether to take a second shot, but that is not done, and the stag struggles in the water for around 90 seconds before sinking. The group can then be heard laughing and congratulating the shooter.

On 19 November, Police Scotland told The Ferret it was probing the incident. “We are aware of the footage and are investigating the matter,” said a spokesperson.

“At this time, we would ask anyone with information about the incident, such as when and exactly where it took place, to contact police on 101, quoting reference NP/2780/20.”

The incident was also being probed by the British Deer Society (BDS), which oversees humane deer control. In a Facebook post on October 30, the organisation said it was “shocked and deeply concerned by the footage”.

BDS’s Facebook post later disappeared, but on 3 November the society confirmed to The Ferret that it was still investigating the incident. However, on 16 November, BDS would not say whether its probe was ongoing.

The video was condemned by cabinet secretary, Michael Russell and by other shooters using social media and a deer hunting forum called the Stalking Directory.

The Ferret was told the stag was shot on the northwest coast by a client of West Highland Hunting, which advertises “trophy” stags to potential clients on its website.

When contacted about Police Scotland’s investigation into the shot stag, the firm did not respond to our requests to comment.

On 18 November, we reported that West Highland Hunting offers clients the chance to shoot rare stags and other animals for up to £8,000. The firm’s 2020 price list, obtained by The Ferret, offered bespoke hunting packages for a range of animals including white red stags, sika stags, Père David bulls, roe bucks and feral billy goats.

Critics of trophy hunting – including politicians and the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting – called for the sport to be abolished.

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